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Need to reshape my tone, can I get some advice?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mrWr0ng, May 24, 2004.

  1. My band has been on my case all week about changing my tone (and about a hundred other things I will be posting about later), and I am down to work on my tone with the band and attempt to find something that makes everybody happy.

    First, some more about the music so you know the kind of sound - I play in a hard rock 'alternative' band. Immediate comparisons would be Tool, Primus, System of a Down, Incubus, Deftones, etc.

    I play busy basslines. Always did, and always have. I also play a lot of slap. My biggest influences have been Rob Wright of NoMeansNo and Les Claypool, but it's *mostly* Rob Wright. So you can get a pretty good idea of the sound that I am typically going for. An mp3 is here from one of our more recent recordings.

    So anyways, after all that blathering, here is my setup:
    '90 Musicman Stingray, Eden WT400, Lexicon MPX1 effects processor, behringer compressor, Mackie 2700FR power amp, and an Eden 410XLT cab. In addition, my bass goes into a Mackie EQ board, 2 qwest power amps and then 4 monitors which are shared by all of the band.

    I have 3 places with which I can control my EQ: My bass itself (it has a 3 band EQ), the Eden, and the Lexicon. The Lexicon has a 4 band EQ where I can control Mix (0 - 100%), Level (Off, -89 to +6dB), Gain (-72 to +24dB), Fc (20-20000Hz), Q 0.1-10.0 (this is quotient of the sharpness of the EQ wave, the less sharp it is the more octaves it covers, the more sharp it is, the more specific it is on an octave), and Mode Low Shelf, Band, High Shelf.

    I am trying to find a rock tone that is Tool-ish, low and rumbly but still works with my busy-ness. It should have a lot of low end, but not so much low end that it shakes the dishes or else I get told to turn it down.

    I am also hoping to find a fine slap bass tone. Something like out of '70's funk. Lots of punch and slap, enough lows and highs, but '70's funk slap has that kind of "tone" to it that I just haven't been able to find.

    If anyone has EQ graphs of great EQs, or just suggestions in general, I would be happy to receive them. Settings themselves would be fine, too, I will write them all down and try them all out with my rig at practice on Friday (ie +5 @ 125 or something like that, whatever). I think my tone right now is pretty good, though it could stand to be improved - but the only way I know I can really improve them is to tear it all down and restart from scratch.

    Thanks a lot for the help. Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, I didn't really see where any of it should go.
  2. vacman


    Mar 8, 2004
    portland, or
    Just my two cents....SVT CL plus 8-10 is sonic nirvana... :cool:
  3. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    My opinion, good basic tone comes from the bass, fresh strings, amp, and speaker cab (and fingers, of course). Sounds like you have those in check.

    Lots of outboard gear in the loop really mucks up the sound, IMO. Using your Lexicon for EQ when you have other good gear might be your problem, as might be that Behringer compressor. Try taking them out of your loop, and see if you can't dial in the tones you are looking for.

    For years, I used an Aphex exciter unit and a DBX compressor in my rack. After getting frustrated with not being able to dial in the tone I wanted, I removed both of those units on a whim. Best damn thing I ever did, it cleared my tone right up. Too much spice in the soup, as they say.

    Try it, it won't cost you anything!
  4. the band wants me to keep the lexicon in the loop because they want me to use f/x on my playing. But I will try removing the lexicon EQ from the loop and try running a bypass on it altogether and dial in a tone on the eden, and see if that gets me something nicer. Then I could just switch off the bypass whenever I want to use a specific effect, since I don't really use them that often.
  5. larry


    Apr 11, 2004
    Ditto that. Get back to basics. A Stingray bass and Eden rig should provide just about anything you need. Flatten your EQ and start over.

    If that does not work, try a Line 6 Bass Pod or similar. If you can't satisfy your band with that, find a new band.

    As for:
    I am also hoping to find a fine slap bass tone. Something like out of '70's funk. Lots of punch and slap, enough lows and highs, but '70's funk slap has that kind of "tone" to it that I just haven't been able to find.

    Dial out your bridge pickups. Just use the ones closest to the neck for that 70's P-bass sound.
  6. inazone


    Apr 20, 2003
    Before you buy/sell anything try out a trace elliot gp12 smx head. Run it flat and try the presets. It has the top end "zing" found in alot of tool songs. To go one step further, try a a/b switch into a ampeg svt or br head into a 15 and a trace head into a 410. Ive done this before and got the same tone as "sober".
  7. I used to run a trace AH600SMX and it would do nearly anything. I dont personally think that there is much wrong with your tone, especially for that type o music. My ony suggestion would be to flatten the EQ and start again. I Changed my rig from that SMX i mentioned to a Vtype and it was a good move as the tone was more "me" if you get it. One thing i was guilty of in the past was over EQing things, start flat and listen to what the sound needs, not what looks pretty on a graphic/parametric etc. Good luck with it.
  8. It's not the high end I'm really terribly worried about at this point, it's the low end, although I am more concerned that if I put in all the "fat low end" they keep asking me for, my basslines are going to become muddy and sound like crap because the tone is wrong for the style. I will work with them the best that I can, however.

    Are there any suggestions for EQ presets, just in case I do wind up needing them? I usually try to dial in a tone as best I can, but because of my lack of interaction with other bassists, I'm not sure what kind of presets they use. It may be that while I am dialing in a great low end, my top end will begin to suffer, and while I dial in a compensatory high end, it might have been better if I dialed in a slightly worse low end that would have been better complemented by a different high end.
  9. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    i have always used scooped mids on bass. i can get floor shaking bass and high end clarity while leaving sonic room for the guitarist who i used to play with, and he used mega-distortions.

    i agree with taking the extras out and seeing what happens. just the bass and an amp. once you know whether or not it is a sound you like...trying adding one piece at a time back in.

    what kind of effects are they asking you to run by the way?
  10. mostly it's delay. but i will occasionally throw in some wah (which i have a different pedal for) and some phaser. they would like me to use more subtle effects more often and a light overdrive but i don't have either of those right now
  11. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I aggree with the less is more approach. I just took the compressor out of my rig and it seems to have improved the clarity of everything.

    Another point that has not been mentioned is to do this tweaking at the volume you are going to play at with your band. If it were me, I'd take everything out of the chain and set the EQ flat with a brand new set of strings.

    Begin small adjustments with fresh ears. I highly advise AGAINST the scooped mids approach. It may sound great alone, but you are trying to sculpt a tone in the context of a band. Try cutting the bass a touch and boosting low mids - around 80hz - just a touch.

    I can't say I'm real familiar with the sounds you are going for, but remember that any sound you hear on a record will have been tweaked in the studio to fit within the context of the record's mix. It may also be the combination of a DI and a mic on an amp. FWIW.

    Good luck
  12. Take out the Behringer compressor NOW! I used to use one of these and didn't realise how much clarity I was losing until I disconnected it from my chain, not bypass, but complete removal.

    Trying to dial in extra low end can be real tricky. As you mentioned, you can lose your note clarity pretty quickly.

    I would recommend starting flat on your EQ. If any tweaking is necessary, you have to do it in context with the guitar playing to find your spot in the mix. BTW if the guitar is running a lot of lows your bass sound will suffer severely. If this is the case ask him to turn down his bass, you wouldn't believe what kind of effect this can have on your tone. If he says no beat em up and join another band.
  13. BTW Tool tone is mostly mids and highs!
  14. I used to try scooped mids, but they never worked for me. The way I play, it would always make everything muddy and hard to distinguish. My style requires a strong middle presence in order for me to properly be heard.

    I will try pulling everything out of my rig and see what happens. I think I have a great setup, and it's got tons of potential but it always seems bogged down by everyone wanting to find the perfect tone. I also have another bass, which has a lot of problems right now, one of them being the wiring, and trying to find a sound that works for BOTH is basically impossible.

    Another issue is that my singer often fiddles with the equipment while I'm playing - if he thinks I'm being too loud, he will go to the compressor and start turning me down, or if he thinks something else isn't right he'll go over and start messing with that. I can have a good sound, and it all goes to sh*t because he won't stop messing with my gear (especially when i switch to the other bass) and then _I_ have to re-mess with it when I switch back to the stingray, and so forth.

    I think I could definitely try to focus on a more raw tone, and see where I can get with that.
  15. Try altering you right hand technique. If you play with a hard attack, lighten it up, and turn up the amp instead, or vice versa. Different strings also sound different. If you are worried about blurred low-end, some DR Lo-Riders might tighten things up. But as stated by others, you should definitely start out with flat eq, and keep the signal chain as simple as possible.

    Hope you'll get there
  16. cgworkman


    May 14, 2004
    Allot of what's been said is very helpful - but remember, band or not, you should be comfortable with what YOU sound like. Sure you have to fit in with the style of music you play - but at the same time be yourself.
  17. Right now I have some Roto-sound flat wounds on there. Would a different string work better? I like them because it makes slides really easy and mutable, and I slide up and down the bass a lot since I have such a busy style. But I am open to ideas.
  18. CG is right! If you like your tone and they don't, the problem isn't you at all!
  19. Maybe the guys in the band are being arses... Its been known in the past! You are concerned about applying too much bottom end? I agree that applying more lo mids is possibly the answer, i wouldnt have said 80hz, id say higher. Try around the 125-175hz zone, youy will then be picking up the octaves of the fundamental frequencies of your strings giving a percieved increase in bottom end rather than mega bottom end. Try it, it might not work, just a thought.
  20. Without actually hearing how you sound with the band, it's hard to give any constructive advice. What type of bass and equipment did their last bass player use. That might give you some idea of what type of sound they are looking for. From what you are telling me, the other members of the band seem to think they know more about bass than you do! They don't seem to be giving you much respect. From my experience it is only a matter of time til you tell them to take a hike!